Rainbow flags unfurled over EP buildings after Hungary LGBTQI football spat

Rainbow flags were unfurled above European Parliament buildings across Europe on Wednesday where they will remain over the course of Thursday,

The rainbow flag flies high above Malta’s European Parliament Liaison Office on Wednesday
The rainbow flag flies high above Malta’s European Parliament Liaison Office on Wednesday

Rainbow flags were unfurled above European Parliament buildings across Europe on Wednesday where they will remain over the course of Thursday, Malta’s liaison office included, on the instruction of EP President David Sassoli.

The flags went up at the entrance of the Parliament in Brussels as well as at the EP’s Liaison Offices in all member states.

Sassoli gave the instruction after a request lodged at the opening of this week’s plenary session in Brussels from Terry Reintke (Greens/EFA, DE), as a point of order on the rule of law in Hungary

Sassoli immediately endorsed the request, stressing that Parliament “has always been very committed to promoting LGBTQI rights and participates in campaigns such as IDAHOBIT”, i.e. the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia

“Parliament will therefore display tonight and tomorrow a rainbow flag on its building in Place du Luxembourg, in front of one of the main entrances. Parliament’s Liaison Offices, present in all EU countries, have also been asked to do the same.”

Hungary faced off against Germany on Wednesday night in the Euro 2020, and a row broke out after Uefa turned down a request from the Munich city council to illuminate the Allianz Arena in rainbow colours in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community, in particular those in Hungary.

But European football’s governing body said the rainbow lights would contravene its rules about political and religious neutrality. But just a few days earlier it had ruled that the German national team’s captain, goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, had not contravened those rules by wearing a rainbow armband after a German far-right politician stoked outrage after describing Neuer’s accessory as a “faggot’s armband”.

Uefa’s decision was met with criticism across Germany and Europe. Football clubs in cities including Cologne, Frankfurt and Berlin announced planned to light their own stadiums in rainbow colours to “fill the void”, while organisations from Munich’s fire brigade to the national rail network, Deutsche Bahn, tweeted messages of support for LGBTQ+ activists.

Deutsche Bahn even painted one of its trains in rainbow stripes.

Juventus and Barcelona were among other European football clubs also showing their support.

Hungarian leader Victor Orbán, whose government passed legislation banning gay people from featuring in school educational materials or TV shows for under-18s, appealed to the German government to respect the Uefa ban.

“Whether Munich football stadium or another European stadium lights up in rainbow colours, is not a state decision,” he told the German press agency dpa.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday that legal proceedings would start against Hungary, terming the new law as “shameful” and arguing that it went against EU values.

On 11 March 2021, the European Parliament declared the European Union an ‘LGBTIQ Freedom Zone’.

Ewropej Funded by the European Union

This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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